Jul 222010
 

This is the third post in my series on cloud backup solutions.  Previous posts were:

Today I’ll be talking about another cloud backup application called Jungle Disk.  I’ve been experimenting with it for a few months and am generally very happy with it.  Much like Mozy, Jungle Disk allows you to intelligently backup your files into the cloud.  On the contrary, Jungle Disk only provides the client application for running backups, the actual storage of the backups is separate, which I’ll explain in more detail shortly.

Client Versions & Pricing

Jungle Disk has 4 different client versions depending on your needs.  Two of them are considered to be for personal use, the others are for businesses.  The personal editions are called “Simply Backup” and “Desktop Edition” and are respectively priced at $2 per month and $3 per month.  Both include 5GB of free backup space.  Simply Backup lives up to its name – it allows you to run either manual or scheduled backups of whatever files/folders you like on as many machines as you like.  Desktop Edition builds on that and allows you to access your Jungle Disk storage as a network drive.  It also has the ability to sync files between multiple machines.  Since I had no need for the features of Desktop Edition (and I’m also a tightwad) I have been using Simply Backup.

The business editions are “Workgroup Edition” and “Server Edition” and are priced at $4 and $5 per month respectively, both including 10GB of free backup space.  Workgroup Edition includes a multi-way sync feature so an entire group of people can keep files in sync between them.  Server Edition includes remote management features.

Storage

NotJungleDiskAs I mentioned earlier, Jungle Disk only provides a client application for creating backups.  You have a choice as to where those backups are stored, as Jungle Disk supports both Amazon S3 and Rackspace Cloud Files.  Prices differ based on which service you choose.  (I’ve been using S3 for my backups.)

Since you’re paying the storage provider based on the amount of data stored, you have the option of how long to retain your backups before they’re deleted.  By default it’s set to 30 days, which seems way too short to me.  If you delete a file and don’t realize it until 31 days later, you would be out of luck because the last backup containing that file would have been deleted.  I currently have mine set to keep each backup for a year, but am considering disabling this option altogether and just keeping all backups forever.

Security

Jungle Disk uses AES-256 encryption for your data, the key for which is based on a password you choose.  Don’t lose your password, otherwise you’ll be out of luck!

Backups

Backups are pretty simple – just select which folders and/or individual files you want to backup.  There’s a built-in scheduler as well as a bandwidth throttle.  Like most systems, the client will only attempt to backup files that have changed since the last backup.  It also features de-duplication technology, so only the parts of files that have changed are backed up.  This can be particularly helpful if you have a large file with a small part of it that has changed.

Restores

Restores are a snap.  You simply select the file(s)/folder(s) you want to restore, the backup date you wish to restore from, and the location you wish to restore them to.  I found restores to be quick and painless.  In Simply Backup, restores can only be done from the client.  In Desktop Edition and beyond, you have the option of restoring files from the web as well.

What I Like

Since your backup files are stored by third parties, the availability of your backups is subject to their guarantees.  Both Rackspace and Amazon S3 have pretty good SLAs.

A nifty feature Jungle Disk provides is backup reports via RSS.  You are provided with a link to a private RSS feed that is updated each time a backup runs.  It’s especially convenient for me as I have my backups set to run during the day while I’m at work.  I can see that my backup jobs have completed, how long they took and how many files were backed up all from the comfort of my RSS reader.

What I Don’t Like

I believe Jungle Disk could be doing a better job of selling itself, or at least letting prospective buyers figure out what they want.  They offer 4 different products at different prices, but there’s no easy way to compare them to each other.  Each product has its own page with a few paragraphs about some of the features it offers, but what they really need is a chart showing all the differences between the versions.

Another thing I don’t like is that while Jungle Disk does de-duplication, it doesn’t do de-duplication across computers.  If you have the same file on 2 computers, you’ll be backing up and storing 2 identical copies of that file.  Jungle Disk’s de-duplication takes place within what they call a “Backup Vault”, but only a single computer can store its backups within a given backup vault.  If you’re only backing up 1 computer this shouldn’t be an issue, however if you have multiple machines with identical files on them, you’ll be paying for more storage than you really need.

Next Cloud Backup Product Review: Picasa Web Albums

  13 Responses to “Review: Jungle Disk”

  1. Bob, your point that Jungle Disk doesn’t do de-duplication across computers is very important. I am signing up to use Jungle Disk and was planning to use it across multiple computers to help sync and clean up duplicate files. I will now backup all computers to a single server and have Jungle Disk backup from there.

    Thanks
    Frank Tremmel | NeighborhoodNursery.com

  2. I use Jungle Disk and so far I’m pretty pleased with it.

    One concern I have is access to my Backup Vault without Jungle Disk. A while back that published some open source code to allay fears that users will have a way to access their data but I haven’t seen that in a while and besides not sure I would even know how to use it. Sometimes I wish they would offer the option to use an industry standard format like .zip and allow me to access as a network drive directly from Amazon.

  3. They do allow access as a network drive from Amazon — I have my backup drive mounted on my PC as a drive letter. Works just fine. And the Amazon drive is a WebDAV exposure, which is an industry standard.

    • Hi Bruce –

      I’ve never tried that, but it makes sense that Amazon would offer something like that. I was more reviewing backup tools with features such as compression and de-duplication, but as a simple way of just having a network drive in the cloud I’m sure it would work. Thanks for the thought!

      Bob

  4. I WAS a JungleDisk user for a few years — I found their customer service to be sub-par. I consider myself to be more competent than most when it comes to IT and I’ve got to say, I find JungleDisk to be a maze of billing and data. I went with a more simplified solution (one of the ‘popular’ ones) and I’ve been very happy with it. In terms of syncing with JungleDisk, I found it unreliable (critically unreliable) and unusable.

    • Hi Doug –

      I’m a fan of Amazon S3 and so I felt very safe with JungleDisk from a storage perspective, but as you can see I didn’t really think the software was worth writing home about. Glad you’re happy with a different product – thanks for reading!

  5. Do not use this service. I concur with the maze of billing and customer service issues, I had multiple problems which led me to cancel my service. Then when I tried to cancel, they have one of those deceptive and fraudulent processes which dupes you into thinking you have canceled when they claim you haven’t. They charged me for 2 extra months and refuse to refund the whopping $8.15 in question. They have multiple complaints from others about this, and have only recently put some very bold red lettering on the cancellation page. But they still insist it’s user error and not their process.

  6. I concur with Brian. I have attempted to cancel five times in this past week. They keep on assuring me that it has been canceled but then I was just charged again yesterday! Their instructions on how to cancel are intentionally confusing and misleading and their customer service is clearly inept.

    DO NOT EVER USE UNLESS YOU WANT TO DEAL WITH A CUSTOMER SERVICE NIGHTMARE.

  7. The quality of customer service (or lack thereof) this time around is simply appalling. I cannot quantify or put into words the frustration and anger I feel as a result of their poor customer service. This is the most frustrating experience I’ve had outside of dealing with trains in China. I am seriously contemplating never using Amazon again after my Prime membership expires. It is really not worth this headache when I attempt to get some sort of recourse as a consumer. I don’t understand how you expect to keep customers with such poor customer service.

    Imagine this situation. I signed up for JungleDisk in 2008. I bought a lifetime subscription. I started using in February for a computer I was going to send to get fixed and I was afraid might would get wiped. I backed up my data and everything was all dandy. My laptop came back and promptly the harddrive died. I clearly have not used that laptop for three months. In that time, I clearly did not upload/download anything (no traffic). I forgot to cancel. That was fine. I attempted to cancel this past week. I went on the Jungledisk website and kept on clicking on links trying to find out how to cancel. I ended up having to google “cancel Jungledisk” and came to this page: http://support.jungledisk.com/entries/19059-closing-your-account. I attempted to implement both steps. Since I wasn’t clear where my files were stored I clicked on both links in the second step. Somehow I ended up at a page asking me for my credit card authorization. I stupidly clicked Yes thinking that it would solve my problems and boom instead I had somehow ended up paying for more even though I wanted to cancel. This was not due to the persuasiveness of this website. It is due to their confusing, misleading and misdirecting website that completely frustrates anyone who wishes to cancel their clearly unreliable service. Unreliable not just in customer service but also in being a reliable back-up solution. I got really frustrated because somehow I was not able to cancel. I couldn’t go to my laptop and try to remove all my data because my laptop had crashed. So I tried to find a Jungledisk customer service number. Did not find one. I wrote them asking to cancel. They said sorry I wished to cancel and said that they had canceled my lifetime subscription. That’s another thing I don’t understand. If I had a lifetime subscription why was I paying $3 a month to them? Regardless, then I called Amazon and was told that Amazon Web Services Support was not available. I wrote an email. They responded promptly and said that my service had been canceled and that I might incur some extra usage costs for the half-duration of the month until I decided to cancel. I naively thought the issue had been resolved.

    Then yesterday I received a charge to my bank account for $4.57. I don’t understand why I was charged the $3 when I had a lifetime subscription and I was told that even that was canceled. I also don’t understand why I was charged the extra $1.57 when clearly I did not use – upload/download whatever – any data because my computer harddrive crashed.

    I am so frustrated that 1) the website does not clearly show how to cancel and is intentionally misleading to people who want to cancel and 2) customer service assured me that they had solved the problem and then I was somehow charged again. These factors together suggest that their customer service either lied to me or is inept, and I shouldn’t suffer because of that. This is bordering on fraud because it is clearly misleading to the consumer and then they charged me without my permission.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Karina. I didn’t have any problems when I canceled my JungleDisk account, but I should note that I still use Amazon S3 and so I didn’t cancel my S3 account.

  8. Thank you for your posting, Karina. I had a very similar experience when trying to cancel my jungleDisk account. I’m glad it wasn’t just me. I finally had my credit card file a stop payment and block any further charges. Companies don’t realize how harmful these deceiving practices are for their long term business. JungleDisk was recommended to me and I was trying it out to consider using it for my business, and now I will never go near them again and will go back and warn the person who recommended them.

  9. […] you can expect zippy and efficient backups. It’s worth mentioning however, that Bob Putaseri (bobputaseri.com) in his own review, notes that Jungle Disk’s de-duplication of data only applies to a single […]

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